Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Friday, 1 February 2019

Colleagues List, February 3rd, 2019

Vol. XIV No. 29


Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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Dear Friends:

Last weekend we recognized International Holocaust
Remembrance Day by visiting Calgary's beautiful new
Central Library (truly a work of art) and we heard both
a lecture and saw a documentary on the theme of
the importance of holocaust education today.

The Special Item this week contains my notes of the lecture.
I share a review of the movie -"Who Will Write Our History?” -
the story of the Warsaw Ghetto, which ended in the uprising.

Both events give pause for serious reflection in today's world.
The rest of this week's Colleagues List provides some current
religion and culture material I hope you will find meaningful.



Lecture and Film Event
Central Library, Calgary Alberta
Sunday, January 27th, 2019
"Why the Holocaust Still Matters"
  lecture by Dr. Scott Murray,
  Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB.
Notes taken  and transcribed by Wayne Holst

Why does remembering the Holocaust still matter?
It is important for several reasons.

First, it reveals the limits of our humanity. We need to be reminded of the tragedy that happened between 1939-45, stemming from the policies of Nazi Germany - not only to the Jews, but also to homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Roma, Russian POWs, those with physical and mental disabilities, and others.

Second, how did it happen? When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 they immediately began to move. They enacted 400 anti-Jewish laws, including limits to Jewish involvement in business and education. It started a process that became the social death of Jews. This opened the way to literal race-based persecution in 1939. For example, urban prisons (a return to the ghettos of the past) were established in Germany and in countries  Germany controlled. Thus, the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland.

Third, it displayed the slow, painful deaths of many Jews in ghettos who were literally squeezed of resources required to live - money, food, etc. Gassing and other forms of euthanasia were imposed, including the forced digging of grave-trenches, and those who dug them were shot. All this was captured on film made by the Nazis themselves to prove they, in fact, had done their work.

During the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941-43, mobile killing units were employed to kill as many Jews as possible, wherever they could be found. Over a two day period, it was recorded, 34,000 Jews were murdered. During two years, 1.5 million Jews were annihilated.

Concerted efforts were made to locate and transport all of Europe's Jews to the six main death camps located in Poland - like Auschwitz.  The Nazis sought out Jews in France, Holland and the Baltic States, and wherever they could find them.

None of this is a myth. Many bodies have been recovered as evidence. But even more important, the Nazis kept good written, photo and video documentation as proof of their work. As the Allies closed in on Germany near the war's end, much documentation was destroyed, but some was recovered for posterity.

Fourth, humans have a brutish capacity. But humans are also hopeful and want the future to be better. Recall movies/books "The Pianist," "Schindler's List," and The Diary of Anne Frank.

Fifth, horrors have been ignored, or white-washed with the desire to "look at the bright side" and "forget about the great, uncomfortable tragedy." We want to believe that humans are all good at heart, and that all cruelty ultimately comes to an end. We tend to give in to the shadow of the Holocaust. Our fears and disgust at what humans can do make us want to move on to more positive things.

Sixth, we transfer all the evil to the Nazis and rationalize away the fact that there were many collaborators, including Jews themselves.


There are stages of genocide, and it is usually a gradual process. We start by thinking "us" versus "them." Then we dehumanize the "other"- turning them into animals, and then we discriminate against them, believing they should be treated differently, even unethically.

But these stages of genocide can be stopped. We can come to realize that our biases have been built on centuries of demonization, as was true for Jews in Europe.  Most good people, including many Christians who should have known better, did not speak out due to fear of reprisal.

We need to learn from this.

Today, institutionalized anti-Semitism exists in many parts of the Middle East, and Europe is growingly anti-Semitic. In Canada, there are critical gaps in our attitude to Jews and hate crimes keep surfacing. We are up against forces that are numerous, powerful and influential. Populist leaders have emerged in places like Poland and Hungary once more. They claim to be "pro-Nationalist," not "pro-Nazi" but their politics is the same. Alarm bells should be ringing. Holocaust history needs to be taught in our schools.

Now, regarding Trump - his core uses anti-Semitic rhetoric. His views are appealing to racists and he makes no effort to challenge that. This brazen hypocrisy is deeply troubling to any who studied fascism in twentieth century Europe. Are these people merely "a lunatic fringe?" or must we seriously challenge the exploiters of nationalism today?

The tendency of some is to try to deflect and to universalize this rhetoric and to think such evil cannot happen here, by or to us.


Why does Holocaust education matter?

1. Prejudice has deep roots in our culture.
2. Genocide is a process that can be resisted.
3. We must move beyond nation to internationalism.
4. Our silence contributes to oppression.
5. We remember. But that's not enough. We must act.

Documentary film: "Who Will Write Our History?”
The story of the Warsaw Ghetto from the inside. 

See National Public Radio movie review, January 17th, 2019


Auschwitz Survivors Pay Homage
as World Remembers Holocaust

Religion News Service,
January 27th, 2019



Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
January 30th, 2019

"Religious Rituals that Boggle Our Minds"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
January 28th, 2019

"Spirituality and the Spiritualities"
Mark Whittall,
Ottawa, ON.
Sermons and Blog,
February 1st, 2019
"Love Never Ends"



Benefits of Practising a Religion

Religion News Service,
February 3rd, 2019


How Not to Read
a Great Religious Thinker

La Croix International,
January 31st, 2019


Little Consensus on the Way Ahead
Angus Reid Institute,
February 1st, 2019


Sightings Assesses "Sightings"
Internal Look at the Marty Center Book

January 31st, 2019


Christian Missions Contributed Much
(Here is One Excellent Example)

Religion News Service,
January 29th, 2019


Suggests He Become Acquainted
With the Message of the Gospels

Christian Post,
January 31st, 2019


The First Ordained Me,
The Second Sustained Me

United Church Observer,
January, 2019


Does Orthodoxy Needs a System of Primacy?

La Croix International.
January 29th, 2019

"Constantinople and Moscow
  At Loggerheads Over Ukraine"

Koinonia, Paulist Fathers,
January 28th, 2019


She Will Join Her Daughters Already Living in Canada

UCA News
January 30th, 2019

"Canadian Catholic Bishop Says Bibi
 Will Move to Canada Where She is Protected"

America Magazine,
January 30th, 2019

From Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:

Time is how you spend your love.

- Zadie Smith


When given the choice between being right or
being kind, choose kind.

- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer


Faith comes and goes. It rises and falls like the tides
of an invisible ocean. If it is presumptuous to think
that faith will stay with you forever, it is just as
presumptuous to think that unbelief will.

- Flannery O'Connor


Prayer is not a discourse. It is a form of life, the life
with God. That is why it is not confined to the moment
of verbal statement. The latter (verbalization) can only
be the secondary expression of the relationship with
God, an overflow from the encounter between the
living God and the living person. -

Jacques Ellul


Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not
something that people think about with great sympathy.
In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time.
Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is
basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you
are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and
wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert
between where they are and where they want to go.
And people do not like such a place. They want to
get out of it by doing something.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

Listen to me now: stand together in peace. Look after
one another, and show concern for another’s needs.
By eating too much, some of you have brought sickness
on your bodies and ruined them, while the limbs of others,
who have nothing to eat, waste away for lack of food.…
And you who have become old in spirit: you are already
dying. Your soft living and constant doubts have brought
 you to this point. You are enervated by the affairs of
daily life; you have fallen into lethargy; you are like old
men who have given up hope of regaining strength and
expect nothing but to fall asleep… But don’t give up hope.
Awake and repent, and you will all be quite new again.

- Hermas


MOMENT IN TIME - January 30th, 2019

Bishop Strachan pens letter to Thomas Jefferson

Jan. 30, 1815: During the War of 1812, opposing sides in North
America fought with words as well as with men at arms. Public
figures sought to seize the moral high ground and associate
their opposites with heinous acts by their respective forces.
In 1814, after the U.S. Capitol, including the Library of              
Congress, was burned by British forces,

Thomas Jefferson wrote that “the vandalism of our enemy has
triumphed at Washington over science as well as the arts.” In
Upper Canada, the future Bishop Strachan was having none
of it. Then rector of St. James (Anglican) church in York          
(Toronto), John Strachan had helped to negotiate a surrender
of the settlement in 1813, only to watch the American invaders
sack the town. After reading Jefferson’s complaint, Strachan
penned the former U.S. president a lengthy missive detailing
a litany of American misdeeds on Canadian soil. “Can you
tell me, Sir, the reason why the public buildings and library
at Washington should be held more sacred than those at
York?” he pointedly asked. Among other atrocities, he
accused American troops – led by future president William
Henry Harrison of Kentucky – of removing the skin from the
fallen Shawnee chief Tecumseh to carry off as a trophy of war.
Jefferson never replied.

– Ivan Semeniuk


CLOSING THOUGHT - Mahatma Gandhi

Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away
before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony
to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be
a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all
other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of truth.



For those interested:

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
Cochrane, AB

Theme: "Who Do You Say That I Am"
Led by Spiritual Director Susan Campbell

Sunday, March 10th, 2019
11:30 AM to 4:00 PM

Cost: $30.
(includes registration, lunch and refreshments)

Restful Reflections and Nature walks, weather permitting...


A Ten Week Series January 14th - March 18, 2019
Monday Evenings, TM Room 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

  How the World's Largest Religion is
  Seeking a Better Way to be Christian

Author: Brian D. McLaren

Registration/Hospitality and Book: $60.00.
Book only: $20.00
45 copies of the book were made available for sale.
All but 2 are now sold. Total on-site registrations: 40
(plus 3 on-line participants). Grand Total: 43

Here are power point notes from each session:

Book Description -

Some stats:

Autumn, 2018 Program -
Total class registrations: 42
Total books sold: 57
Autumn and Winter Series (2018-19) -
Total class registrations: 85
Total books sold: 100


East Europe and Russia were chosen as our destinations!

This will be our fifth Spiritual Travelers Tour, with a
group emerging from St. David's but very open to others.
The Tour is entitled: "From Vienna to Moscow"

We plan a twenty-day tour that combines a focus
on spirituality, culture and the relationship between
religion and politics. The tour will run from April 26th
through May 16th, 2019.

A beautiful brochure with trip cost, itinerary, and
many helpful travel hints has been published.

Our trip sale reached an important milestone
as 38 persons registered, helping us to surpass
our optimal goal of 30 passengers.

30 travelers had paid their trip fare as of the deadline:
January 15th, 2019. This will be our travel group.

Our Canadian tour company is Rostad Tours, Calgary.
Contact Rostad Tours:

Phone 1-800-361-8687 or 403-238-4090.

Follow these notices for weekly updates.


Our theme this winter: Hebrew Biblical History -
"I and II Kings"  

Ten Sessions - January 24th-March 28th, 2019

Gathering at 9:30 AM in the St. David's TM Room
and meeting 10:00 - 11:00 AM.

No charge

Study resource -

"The DK Complete Bible Handbook"
  Edited by John Bowker



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